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September 21st, 2010
12:05 AM ET

Report: Alzheimer's disease causes global financial burden

The cost of caring for people with dementia around the world tops $600 billion according to a report released Tuesday. "70 percent of the costs occur in Western Europe and North America," according to the report.

With the release of the World Alzheimer's Report 2010, Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), a consortium of 73 non-profit Alzheimer's groups from around the world, is trying to raise awareness about the global financial burden caused by dementia.

Each year ADI issues a report on September 21, which has been designated as World Alzheimer's Day.

Last year's annual Alzheimer's report estimated that 35.6 million people would be living with some form of dementia in 2010 and predicted that this number would nearly double in 2030 and reach 115.4 million in 2050.

The new report calculates the cost of medical care as well as the cost of formal services and informal services provided by family members. Researchers estimate the total cost of care just for this year will be $604 billion, which they say is equal to the gross domestic product (GDP) of what would be the 18th largest country or about 1 percent of the world's GDP.

The United States ranks highest when comes to the cost of caring for a person with dementia, which comes to more than $48,000 according to the report. Caring for people with dementia is least costly – just $903 according to the new data – in South Asian countries like Bangladesh and India.

In this report, ADI is calling on all governments to do more to recognize dementia as a health priority and invest more in prevention and developing plans for caring for the millions more who will get this disease in the coming decades.

"The U.S. is unprepared to handle the massive human and economic burden that is building as a result of the growing number of people with Alzheimer's disease," Harry Johns tells CNN. Johns is the president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, one of the members of Alzheimer's Disease International. He notes that the U.S. government annually spends $6 billion on cancer research, $4 billion on heart disease research, approximately $3 billion on HIV/AIDS, which he says are all good investments and have led to lives being saved. However, when it comes to Alzheimer's research, Johns notes that funding by the National Institutes of Health is only $469 million per year.

Johns' interview with CNN's "American Morning"

ADI suggests in this report that many governments are unprepared to meet the challenges they face with a growing population of people with dementia. The Alzheimer's Association in the United States points out that 6 other countries, including France, England and Australia do have national Alzheimer's plans, but the United States does not. Legislation called the National Alzheimer's Project has been introduced in Congress.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.